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The Clean 

Anthology (Merge)

If only all aspects of globalization spread the way the punk virus of the late '70s did, when rebellious creativity infiltrated every community with a radio and a pop-music tradition. Everyone who wanted punk got it, and everyone who cared to remade it in their own image. New Zealand's the Clean basically founded post-punk's Kiwipop school, or at least its Dunedin chapter. Guitarist David Kilgour, drummer Hamish Kilgour, and bassist Robert Scott were its Buzzcocks-meet-Television-in-a-garage midwives, responsible for birthing nearly every great New Zealand pop band of the past 20 years not starring a Finn brother or Chris Knox.

Yet the Clean's greatest contribution to the historical writ was the way its songs embraced punk's anything-is-possible essence, instead of reducing all to generational disaffection. Wide-eyed life choices and noisy guitars leap off Anthology -- a two-CD set that includes every track off the trio's seminal early '80s EPs (which, along with the Soft Boys, flipped the switch on pretty much all noisy hooks that followed), as well as a heaping helping of their fine '90s psychedelic ruminations. If you were looking for another twentysomething voice telling you how "anything could happen," you won't find a better one.

More by Piotr Orlov

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